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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  February 20, 2011 1:00am-2:00am EST

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i think it was the first textbook for a feminist criticism that has ever been published. i got to do it. i was a new ph.d.. and was in my first assistant or associate job that i felt a tremendous sense of responsibility doing this book to my productive readers. when i did it, putting together the list of text that i wanted was really not very hard especially because in those days i didn't even know of that many.
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but i got a real shock when i sat down to write to copyright holders for permission to reprint the author's work. i had wanted to include sylvia plat's celebrated poem, daddy. you probably all know that on. i want you to include two other poems by plat. is really going for broke but when i wrote to platts executor and also the sister of her estranged sister ted hughes who is rumored to be somewhat of a ferocious person, they respond it's that to reprint it would cost $100. i was paying for the permission fees out of the pittance that i got for doing the book and as a beginning assistant professor with two kids i had not very much money of my own. olin said that the other two poems i asked forward $50 each. that was the beginning of my literary career, and i will tell you that i settle for a
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50-dollar poem. i struck a bargain and i bought a poem called less boss which is quite a long poem, a magnificent poem about enmity between two women. despite the title it was a wonderful poem which was it cheaper poems then daddy for reasons that we can speculate about. that was my introduction to the business of the literary anthology and as an idealist young scholar it had never occurred to me that poems could be rated by their ticket price as well as by their quality. but that experience really changed my perception of literature forever. and from then on i really understood i think that literature has always been a business, that poems, stories and essays and novels our product in a marketplace as well if acts of creative -- and professional writers depend on
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their market value as well as their critical reception. in this new collection, i have to poems by sylvia platts and i have to tell you i still can't afford daddy. at $100 toy that was an unbelievable bargain. if it was in stock now, daddy has escalated so i still can't pay for it and i chose two of platts other poems, powerful poems written in the last few months before her suicide. i realize that sometimes financial constraints force you to look beyond the conventional and find something really wonderful. not all the time, but in this case. fast-forward to the present. in 2003 i signed a contract with them not to write it a literary history. my editor at knopf suggested to me that it would be a good idea to put together an anthology to
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go with it and to be published in paper book buy vintage and that is the book i'm talking about today. this extremely welcome suggestion. i know that many of the works they talk about in jury of her peers are out of print and they were very hard to find and reader said where can i get ahold of these texts? now that i'm interested in them i am curious about them, where can i read them? i knew from the beginning it was a given i could not possibly include all the important works by american women writers since 1650 in a single volume. that i knew from the start. on the other hand, before this there has never been a single volume anthology of american women's writing. which seem to me kind of a staggering omission in the 21st century. and i knew that i wanted to make an anthology. i wanted to put together a book that was portable, that was economical, that wasn't weighted
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down by all of the apparatus of the textbook, that brought together stories and poems and essays by american women writers as many as possible that would reflect their diversity, style, works the purview beautiful or tragic or funny, satirical or inspiring or all of the above. and the anthology over walled was intended to offer many cannons. a partial list who i think is a significant writer and literary tradition and to provide a kind of map of their relation to each other and american literature in general so those are my aims. now all of us know, i think, that today the anthology is a genre very much dominated by a few large and wealthy publishers who can afford to hire the knowledgeable editors and researchers required to put a good together and to have the
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bottomless pockets to pay the staggering fees for reprinting work in copyright. most of the important and wide-ranging anthologies are aimed of course at the textbook market, mostly the college textbook market. their multivolume works of over 5000 pages. they have vast budgets. they have fast sales. they have something of a student captive market and there has been quite a discussion lately about the price of textbooks for college and university students. and over the past 15 years, they have been getting bigger. they have been getting more elaborate. they have been getting more expensive. they are package now with maps, pictures, teaching manuals, and in some cases audio and video supplements so you are buying really an entire experience when you buy one of these anthologies. now that is not what i was
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trying to do or had done. i wanted to put together a book for the general reader as well as the undergraduate. and to do it without the enormous committee and consultations of the big text. i started out by making a list of all the works i would like to include in a utopian publishing world, and then with the help of a grant from the mellon foundation i was able for a year to pay three graduate assistants, two from princeton and one from harvard, to help me go through the libraries to see if there were works in writers i had overlooked. vintage had established a rough guideline. i'm going to let you in on all of these books. i was going to let you in on all of the statistics, financial statistics and putting the analogy together. they were willing to pay about $20,000 in permission fees which
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is probably about one tenth or less than what a big textbook publisher has available. this is huge business, the textbook anthology market. now, 800 pages, $20,000. copyright law, some of you may know, is different in every country. the guidelines in the united states that i was given by my publisher were to get permission but everything published after 1922. they figured that would cover everything. canadian laws different and i had to get some canadian rights as well. british law is also very different, but no british publisher was willing to put up the money to produce an anthology of american women writers and i think that is a shame. so that gives you a bit of the background. however, even with my realistic and cynical view of the commercial and financial aspects of anthology published and we think urging backup from my very
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patient and endlessly optimistic editor at vintage, diana, i was really unprepared for the nightmare of getting permission. i cut my list to 100 writers and i had to write for permission, copyright permission, for 48 of them. 48 of those were still under copyright protection. i started a year before the publication date and the year that followed, a year ago in other words, was an education for me in the kantian bureaucracy, greed, control freak, and efficiency, outright lying and the blindness of copyright holders to the circumstances of readership in the 21st century. i thought naïvely that many executors, copyright holders, would be happy to have some long forgotten story.
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nobody had talked about in 30 years, 40 years, 50 years and i would come and say i'm going to reprint the senate is going to be called the vintage book of american women writers. is in that wonderful? they did not see it as an opportunity to find new audiences were there writers. there were a tiny number of exceptions. in fact there were two and exceptions. peter, the set of -- the son of ted's lessons are, fabulous story which i recommend you, was happy to have his mother's work made available and he was exceptionally generous of his terms but overall, copyright holders made it as hard as possible for me to anthologized in reprint their writers work. permission editors lost my letters until prodded by their bosses, write the agreed authors when they miraculously located the letters in a matter of
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minutes. at one press press the permissions editor was quite annoyed with me for continuing to pester her about a writer's work he could she had many other responsibilities. churl i am sure because we know that publishers like everybody -- every other business are being cut out. somebody has to handle the permissions though, and i would think that in these days, permission fees could be centralized and standardized and handled on line. they are not. on their web site, publisher say that they will respond to written or e-mail queries in two to six weeks and they warn you not to telephone them to follow-up. in fact, several of the largest publishers take up to five months to reply to some queries. in one case they never could get a reply from the copyright holder and just gave up. when you read a review, people say why isn't so-and-so in the book? i want you to know these are some of the reasons why writer x
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does not make it into these books. back in the 1970s, $100 was a lot of money for palm come even, even a great poem but home stories have become more costly like everything else. their prices set by the copyright holder. there is absolutely no standard, no convention. you charge what you think you can get away with. there is no correlation to length or even to the fame of the writer or the classic nature of the work. in other words you might expect to pay a lot of money for stories that have been reprinted, classic story. you can be charged as much for a 10 line poem by a poet that nobody has ever heard of at all, and there seems to be no sense among executors that there is a difference here or that there might be some kind of discussion if these people ever get together and talk to each other about what they are selling. so they asked for exorbitant sums for lesser work.
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radical authors, which i have quite a number represented whether they were politically radical, left-wing or feminist or other, were just as demanding and uncompromising as those with a much more commercial and mainstream that. in fact there is a scholar named carrie nelson who was the left-wing academic editor himself and he is editing an anthology of modern american poetry. he has written that trying to reprint work by radical writers is the real source of expression in the red. [laughter] now, carrie nelson, who i know and whose experience with the permission process which is described in a very funny article, was very similar to mine. he actually enjoyed working with publishers. he liked making them offers they could not refuse. his publisher offered university press with all the correspondents in my case it myself, and kerry checked in at the end and a sort of a good cop
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bad cop routine threatening to drop the writers altogether if the publishers did not come through and cut their fees. i did a little bit of bargaining. many publishers took so long to reply that the bucket book had actually gone to press before i even heard back from them, and to negotiations were concluded on the final day, the last possible minute for the book was set in print. even an important writer cannot always control copyright permission. i wanted to include, and they did include, joyce carol oates wonderful short story golden gloves and i wanted to include it in part because it was a short story about a woman writer, about a boxer. i wanted the anthology to include counterintuitive examples of women's writing. women write about everything. they are not limited to feminine subjects. and i wrote a way and after many
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months of silence, i appealed to joyce or self who is an old friend and a supporter of this anthology and women's writing in general. she was really very glad that i wanted to reprint the story. it has never been anthologized before. but it turns out that the copyright on golden gloves is held by a former publisher. she had left many many years ago, and the rights have never reverted to her. she appealed to them to be merciful, which is to say that if you will charge me a low sum for the story but of course they didn't. they charged a whopping fee, which we paid and in many cases i have had the experience of myself as an academic writer and so has my husband and a lot of people i know who are literary writers, the writers themselves ever get paid on these copyright royalties from the publisher. so there is a kind of a limbo land. not in every case but in some
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cases, where these royalties go. who is in control of these rights? in addition to just the financial hassles, many of the agent secretaries and other representatives of various writers insisted that they should look at my head notes to the selection of the writer. they wanted to critique it and they wanted to make sure it was all okay. several of them wanted to know and they wanted to xerox copies of the writer who would come before them in the writer who would come after them in the book. the book is actually arranged by the writer's date of birth so i didn't have a lot of flexibility on that. there were writers and their ages who demanded revisions of my head notes who objected to critical statements that i made about them. in one case they complained that i had not given sufficient space and detail to the author's political causes. there was a long list of things
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they would want included. finally i had to draw 20 of my original 100 writers because they were too expensive or too demanding or to controlling in their requests. and i think none of you will be surprised to hear it once i had agreed to the fee and sign the contract, these publishers and executors wasted no time at all than sending out their bills. that they were very speedy about. so putting together a literary anthology demands a lot of tough and painful editorial decisions. i made the decision that i would not include excerpts in novels published after 1900. some of the novels published before 1900 are very long and not that readable by modern authors and yet you want to have the sense a sense of who was represented. but i did want to include some of our major women novelists. tony morrison, as was mentioned
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as someone who said in the early book -- review. tony morrison has published one short story. it came out in 1983. if there is any anthology of american writing and women's writing that story will be in it because it is the short story by tony morrison and it is a pretty good story. but it is wrong. it is very expensive, as you can imagine, and i had to choose between including vat and including maybe five other pieces. marilyn robinson, another contemporary women novelists whom i admired her meds they have also published only one short story in the paris review and she did not want to have it reprinted. i think it is quite good, but she didn't wanted to come to light again. another of my favorite contemporary writers have stories that were both very long and very expensive, and i
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certainly have been aware for a long time if you look at the anthology's, specially the deal with a contemporary period, they will often have a great deal of poetry in them. may be one poem per poet and that is because poetry is cheaper and you can get a lot more writers and if you just use a palm. it isn't always cheaper, but it is sometimes tends to be cheaper than fiction. i didn't want to go that route and i didn't want to have a lot of short sections if i could. and i will mention by the way that i have been cut from an anthology myself as a critic. around 2000, the norton anthology of criticism and theory came out and the editors had to cut 300 pages at the last minute. "the new york times" wrote this up. this is what happens when you work with norton. "the new york times" wrote it up and i think publishing on the front page, and they noted that along with rousseau and george elliottelliott, elaine showalter
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has been dropped from the book. [laughter] one of my proudest moment. although my princeton students reacted to this as if i had been host for men a league meeting club. they were most discussed and felt it was a shameful experience for me to be exposed in that way. anyway, and anthology is about the art of the possible like politics and other things in washington. nonetheless, i am happy with the way this book turned out and i am excited to think that readers will be able to find astonishing work, moving work, funny work by writers who will be new to them, but who i feel should be recognized as important figures in american literary history. i hope they will also be able to recognize some of the genres and some of the styles that are characteristic of american women's writing. for example, the allegory, a form used by a american women writers in the 18th century to the present, including writers
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as diverse as katherine sedgwick, frances harper, eds wharton, sarah warren jewett, alice nelson, gary austin, shirley jackson, i could go on and on. i want to include a reading one of these which is quite short called she and names them by ursula le guin. how many know this piece? that is my daughter, okay. [laughter] otherwise this will be something new to you and i hope you like it. it is set in the garden of eden. it is told by a very rebellious e. and it reflects very much in the times. it reflects the concern, the fascination of feminists in the 1980s with escaping from patriarchal language, the idea that the language was invented by men and therefore controls what we can express.
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and creating a new way of speaking and writing. soshi and names them. most of them, accepted nameless was with a perfect indifference with which they had so long accepted and it toward their names. whales and dolphins, seals and sea otters consented with particular grace and alacrity. sliding into anonymity as into their element. a faction of the acts, however, protested. they said yak sounds right and almost everyone who knew they existed call them that. unlike the ubiquitous creatures such as rats and fleas who were called by hundreds of thousands of different names since babil the yaks could truly say, they said, they had a name. they discuss the matter all summer. the council of elderly females finally agreed to the name might be useful to others. it for so redundant from a gap
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point of view that they never spoke of themselves and justice will dispense with it. after they presented the argument in this light to the polls, the full consensus with the late only by the onset of severe early blizzards. soon after the beginning of the thought, their agreement was reached on the designation yak was returned to the donor. among the domestic animals few horses that care what anybody called them. cattle, sheep, swine, yields and goes along with chickens geese and turkeys of agreed enthusiastically to give their names back to the people to whom, as they put it, they belonged. i assume they mean the names belong, not the animals. a couple of problems to come up with the cats. the cats of course, steadfastly denied ever had -- having any names. others of those unspoken indefinitely personal names
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which is the poet named elliott said they spent long hours daily contemplating. it was with the dogs and with some parents, love birds, ravens and miners that the trouble arose. these verbally talented individuals insisted that their names were important to them and flatly refuse to part with them. but as soon as they understood that the issue is precisely one individual choice and anybody who wanted to be called rover or froufrou or poly or even bertie in the personal sense is perfectly free to do so. not one of them at the least objection to parting with a lower case or with regard to german creatures, uppercase. generic appalacian, poodle, parrot dog or dogger bird and all the qualifiers that it trailed along behind them for 200 years like 10 hands tied to a tale. the insects parted with their names and gas clouds in swarms in the several syllables,
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buzzing and singing and humming and flitting and crawling and tumbling away. as for the fish of the sea, their names disperse from them in silence throughout the oceans like they dark wears of cuttlefish inc. and drifted off on the current without a trace. none were left now to a name. and yet, how close i felt to them when i saw one of this swim or fly or trotter crawled across my way or over my skin or stalk me in the night to go along beside me for a while in the day. they seemed far closer than when their names that sit between myself and them at a clear barrier. so close that my fear of them and their fear of me became one in the same fear. and the attraction that many of us felt, the desire to smell one another smells, feel or rapport caress one another scales are scanned or federer for, taste
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one another's blood or keep one another one, that attraction was now all one with the fear and the hunter could not the toll from the hunted nor the eater from the food. this is more or less the effect that had been after. it was so much more powerful than i had anticipated that i could not now in all conscience make an exception for myself, so i resolutely put anxiety away, went to adam and said, you and your father let me this. gave it to me actually. it has been really useful, but it doesn't exactly seem to fit very well lately. but thanks very much. it is really been very useful. it is hard to give back a gift without sounding peevish or an grateful and i didn't want to leave him with an impression of me. he was not paying much attention as it happened and said only, put it down over there, okay? and went on with what he was doing. one of my reasons for doing what i did was the talk was getting us nowhere but all the same i
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felt a little let down. eyed man prepared to defend my decision and i thought perhaps when he did notice come he might be upset and want to talk. i put some things away and fiddled around a little but he continued to do what he was doing and to take no notice of anything else. so at last they i said well, good idea. i hope the garden key turns out. he was getting parts together and said without looking around, okay dear, when his dinner? i am not sure, i said. i am going now. i hesitated and finally said, with then you know, and went on out. i had only just been realized how hard it would would have beo explain myself. i could not chatter away as they used to do, taking it all for granted. my words now must be a slow, as new, as single, as tentative as the steps i took going down the
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path away from the house between the dark branch, tall dancers, motionless against the winter shining. so i want to leave you with a question about this. does the speaker give back the name of each or the name woman? and what difference would it make if it was either one? now if you all have any questions or comments i would be very happy to hear them. [applause] >> i have a question. the people who have the copyrights, where they mostly men? >> no. no, no. absolutely, as i said, the most politically radical writers were just as bad as the other ones. the ones who art -- gary nelson
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says this is all a product of late capitalism. whatever but whether you were against late capitalism or not when it came time to ask for your wedding it didn't matter what your police work, you try to get whatever you could. and a number that people of the people who work in publishing, maybe all the permission editors except for one permission -- were women. i think is something that the press is have them. they don't pay them very well and give them lots of other jobs to do and assaults by the wayside. i am not the only person who has said this. anybody used in an anthology like this will tell you what a nightmare it is to try to get these permissions. it seems to me something, you know that the intersystem has paid for. why can't this be handled on line? why can it be standardized? why can't there be some kind of commission to get together and settle on a fee, and make it easy to get this done. but it is very old-fashioned. >> i want to start my whole teaching career over again.
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i want to go back to 60 again. i think this is a wonderful book the second thing is emily dickinson. i found it so galling to have to pay wealthy harvard university to print emily dickinson, anything of emily dickinson's. i noticed that you have three. >> they are all out of copyright. i mean, i think all of emily dickinson is wonderful. i thought these would be great poems but this is what it really comes down to and i think it is fascinating. you don't realize, when you are looking at a budget and you are faced with spending several thousand dollars for these works and you get a chance to get some of it for free or for less, this is what you have to do. it is a facts to me, a fascinating case study in this nexus of commerce and art.
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or production in education, however you want to look at it and these are hard decisions to make. but it is a system and it is a system that has really become entrenched. >> you don't have the latest edition of that poem, do you? >> i got the latest. but some of them i think that she wrote earlier that others have not been renewed. harvard for the people who wrote to me and said very kindly that you can have these ones or nothing. oh boy. that is terrible. the third question is, you said there were two people who are very generous indeed named one. who are the other ones? >> cynthia owes it was incredibly generous. she was very kind and indeed, she wrote kind of an addendum to her essay that i quoted in the book. cynthia o. zach has always struggled with her brittle -- literary career.
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she doesn't like to be called a woman writer. she is like to be called a woman writer because as she was growing up, this this is sweater as a they suggest. being a woman writer was accepting inferiority. i think she has gotten over that now and she was incredibly kind and efficient and helpful and supportive. but i was staggered. i am obviously not going to name names but i was just amazed at the people who i thought would be helpful in understanding and happy to have this. it is not the writers fault in most cases. is the people who control the rights and that literature is a very complicated series of strata and once you get into that realm, you get into the legal and financial aspects of it. it is out of control of the writer. >> thank you for all of the work that you did on this. it is wonderful. >> i was just wondering if a
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book has to be very different it is written by -- [inaudible] >> it is an interesting question because even a short time ago it was assumed that it was. whether it was assumed that this was so because it wasn't as good as the book why a man, which is what many male critics and scholars believed and which many women believe themselves as they wrote or whether after the feminist movement that it was assumed that women have a totally different nature. they have a different way of looking at the world and their books deal with different topics in a different style and even as ursula gwyn speculated, different language. i think we are past that now on the 21st century. women writers are writers. they are women like they are american and american anthology. sometimes you might recognize a scene that you think is american but a lot of other times you
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won't. and i think that is a really good thing. it to step towards creative freedom. i am all in favor of that. on the other hand when women are braiders -- this is another level of the nexus of the literary market. when women writers are reviewed, those stereotypes to come into play. and you see it every week. the post i think is really very good about this in very aware. "the new york times," not so good. a lot of other places not so good. so was george carolus once said when i sit down to write i'm just a writer but when i'm published and reviewed i'm a woman writer. i think that sums it up ready effectively. whatever people think a woman writer might be. [inaudible] >> as i said i think it was a male view to begin with that women internalized it. there have been earlier anthologies of women's writing,
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not a american women writing but anthology of women's writing collectively and in every edition, there were always women writers or refuse to be in the book. now you try to compare this. you imagine an anthology of black writing or american writing. can you imagine anybody saying, i won't be in that? it is because women writers thought that it was a stigma that they were women and they would appear in the context of other women writers. and i will say that in this anthology nobody told me they wouldn't be in it because it was -- which i think his progress. i hope it is is the kind of progress. yeah, rachel. >> i think we are still struggling with marginality though. different elitist groups and blacks and whites i think. this thing about, i identify with it and it is part of my nature. but at the same time where do i
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fit in the larger society? and i think that there is a lack still. >> could you repeat that? >> yeah, asked whether they are they're still a sense of -- whether there is still a sense of marginality for women writers, unlike other minority writers. not that women are a minority but they feel they are not quite representative of the whole, that theirs is a marginal view, a sub view somehow and that they can't speak for the entire culture. >> i think, i think that most women you know, like the idea of being identified now as women. i think there is up right now that there wasn't before.
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but i think that what we haven't achieved is a balance, you know. i am a woman but i am also part of the society. and sort of that talent, and i think that the critics, there is a lack of the critics. they are even further behind. >> i think you are absolutely right and it is particularly problematic for american writers because we have this fantasy called the great american novel, the gam, the great american novel and it has always been assumed that the great american novel must be about male experience. so that women are just somehow excluded from that category and in the past decade we have had a number, famous writers who died, salinger, bellow and so on. every time a great american male writer dies, there are whole state of articles saying who is going to take his place? who is going to take salinger's
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place? who is writing the great american novel now? there will be a list of several young male writers, middle-aged writers and baby elderly writers and a woman stuck on the end. it is very fresh rating because the assumption is somehow that the female experience is not the american experience and a dessert and not the great american experience that is going to be reflected in the novel. it is really harder thing for women writers to contest without. there was a tremendous lack recently about jonathan franzen whose novel was picked up by a number of critics, mostly male critics but not entirely, and just hyped. this was another gan, never great american novel but it is about a lot of the things that women write about. is about families. is about messick life. some women writers said you know women just don't get this kind of attention.
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it hasn't really happened yet and it is usually that exclusion issues we attributed to the subject matter. it clearly is an. is really about gender. whether it is a man writing about the family it is content but when it is a women writing about the family is take less. >> you talked about how it is perceived in america and obviously the book is american authors. is it different in different countries? are women authors treated differently in europe or asia than they would be here? >> absolutely. it is different country by country and i won't try to go through it but and one by one and buy one but an england where i started to do my work on english novel and where i live part of the time, have had for many years, spent part of the year in england, there's a difference. not that english writers are
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totally happy with it or british writers are totally happy with it either but there is not the same tradition our hope of the great novel, the great english novel and in addition if you look at the literary tradition in great britain, there are a number of women who helped form it. jane austen, george elliott and so on so it is extremely hard to come in at this point and say women aren't capable of producing it when they created it. and i think the expectations are different. if you look at 19th century 19th century literature and the united states, most people when i asked this question can identify two american women writers in the 19th century, it emily dickinson and harriett teachers though. dickinson is definitely accepted although i once taught a course at rutgers with a male colleague and we were doing wittman and dickinson and when it came to dickinson he said i just can't read the little bitty poems.
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i don't want to bother with that. so there are still a few throwbacks. teachers though entered american history as a bestseller, as a pulled fiction writer. somebody who rode important fiction and had a huge a store quintet but not as an artist. one of the things i've tried to do in my book is to contest that attitude. we don't have an american jane austen. we don't have a 19th century woman novelist to have the same status so i think that has to be challenged and we have to say look, there are all these women writers producing artistically significant work who just never got the attention that they deserved and need to dismantle that. so i think if you read reviews in england now, they won't be quite the same imbalance that there is an american reviewing and there are a lot more venues for book reviewing in great
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britain than that are in the united states. you get a lot more different voices and here they are dwindling. >> hi. i have two questions, both related to what you mentioned when you were addressing that lady's question. the first one is, when you said it is viewed differently if it is written by a female author and viewed differently if it is written by a male author. just out of curiosity, male writers versus female writers, is it 50/50, 50/40? and also the reviewers, 50/50,
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60/40? >> i can't answer precisely your questions about how many. it depends on what you are looking at. "the new york times," there have been studies in "the new york times" book review which is now still the dominant reviewing form in the united states and all the other ones get closed down, you know. and very recently there was a study done of "the new york times" and it was predominately male. the times have gotten quite touchy about that in my opinion because the last several issues on the cover had to reviews by women. they started making up for that as hard as they could. and other places, there will be equal for women. i don't think it is really standardized. also, couldn't really answer about proportions of male and female writers though it is my view that they are roughly equal. what i do know and i know barbara would confirm this for me, is that women are the majority of the consumers of
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fiction in this country whether it is by men or women. women by the vast majority of novels, poems by any writer, male or female. and when the great carla cohen was with us, she said about politics and prose, people come in the front door and it is like coming to a wedding. something i quoted in jury of her peers. there've been lots of studies that show that. whether the difference about what they are writing as discrimination, don't like the word discrimination as such. i think stereotypes and received opinions. i don't think this day and age, i think people feel uncomfortable if they thought they were discriminating but they are expressing attitudes that they have -- that are very ingrained and very hard to eliminate.
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and they have to be made aware of that. every now and then you will get a woman writer who will publish under a male pseudonym. that was very common in europe and you asked about other traditions. american women writers have very rarely use male pseudonyms whereas in europe, all over europe, this was common to get equal treatment from the critics and from the readers. it happens very rarely hear. when it does happen, people are just compounded. they just can't believe it. i mean, they start reading her works and if they think it is by a man they react to it in a particular way and play it is unveiled as being a women's work they are stuck turkoman of the cases that i talked about in jury of peers is a wonderful woman named alice sheldon who lived in the washington area and wrote under the name of james to treat jr.. she started writing in the 1970s and we are not talking
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about the dark ages here. she wanted to write science fiction. alice sheldon had been in the army during world war ii. she was one of the women who joined the immense army corps and she had been staged on a military base. shia ph.d. in biochemistry and schubert the cia. she was also the daughter of a safari traveler so she had been all over the world and hunted wild animals and so on. in the science-fiction started to come out i james gets you jr., who is this macho heroic wonderful writer? she or he, james tip tree one all the awards you can get in science fiction. everybody was saying this is the best there's ever been and there was all the speculation. this speculation. is the somebody clearly has been a spy, clearly is a scientist, clearly a military man, clearly a very adventurous man and then eventually james tipsy jr. was outed as a woman.
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now when that happened, à la sheldon said that as a relief, i don't have to do that anymore and she kept writing. nobody wanted to read her work. and it is melodramatic say that she eventually committed suicide, which he did and i don't want to say that this is a cause-and-effect. but i don't think it helped. so i think that there is there a very persistent attitude about what kind of work men produce and its signature is really what we are talking about here, not creativity, not imagination, not skill. signature, is the man's name or a woman's name? that is why in europe still, a lot of writers publish under their initials. mr. writers particularly. women writers will publish under initials because they are general neutral and people don't necessarily know whether it is a man or.
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by the time they discovered it is too late to change their minds or to say they changed their mind. i think all of these things make a big difference. >> we have got time for one more quick question. >> this is my last question. is most of the fiction readers are women i don't know whether a poll was conducted but if you were to conduct a poll and ask women, okay, are your favorite writers men or women, what do you think they would say? >> i don't think he would be very conclusive, because women are very willing to read books by male writers and i will ask the pass the women in this room, and i think most of you are like me. when you were little girls did you read books about voice? how many did read books about boys when you are little girl? you didn't? you didn't? you didn't read the hardy boys
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or huck finn or anything like that? and then if you ask the boys, the men in this room, how many when you were little boys read books about little girls? not many. even the great american girls books of all-time, "little women" which is a book that every year someone will ask, the governors or sarah palin what was your favorite children's book? all the women will say "little women." it has never been cited by a man. men don't read little many there. any men in this room that have read little men? no way, no way. [laughter] they are not going to do it. the thing is that to read about female experiences feminizing and therefore stigmatizing for a man to read about male experience is expanding and positive for a woman.
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so women will read with happiness work i both men and women. >> is so interesting because she did write under a pseudonym for so many years. was contraband the one you have in here? 's bea. >> some of those are pretty racy. >> they were very racy and they were read by men. they didn't know. there are some things in the book there were read in -- i put in some early things by women that are quite violent, not at all what you would expect of 19th century women. as an indication, they are very interesting but as an indication that women could write anything but they were expected to write in a certain way. and you know, the scorn, the contempt of male writers towards their female competitors, which
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is what they were, well into the 20th century was just extraordinary. we are talking hawthorne to hemingway. absolute contempt. and that is because often the women were selling better. >> you can never neglect, you can't neglect that but there are many other factors as well. well, thank you so much all for coming. it is very kind of you to come out on the stormy night and i really appreciated very much. [applause] >> author elaine showalter discussing her book "the vintage book of american women writers" at politics and prose bookstore here in washington d.c.. is there a nonfiction author or book you would like to see featured on booktv? e. melisa booktv at c-span.org or tweet us at twitter.com/booktv.
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speonk debris 16th of this year, the borders bookstore group declared bankruptcy. joining us now on booktv to discuss the impact of this bankruptcy is sarah weinman, who is the news editor of publishers marketplace. misalignment, how did worters get to the point of declaring bankruptcy? >> guest: well, i think it has been a long time in coming. certainly the last three years in particular as quarter after quarter borders has been losing money. they have also gone through a number of management changes, especially at the top. they have gone through i think something like four ceos in the past four years. but this story can also date back to the beginning of the 21st century i suppose, things like outsourcing their web site to amazon in 2001 and they didn't reclaim it until a 2008. their e-book strategy was never at the same level as the kindle
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or barnes & noble with a note. it always just kind of scene that orders was operating a few steps behind every other retailer and combining all the additional factors that has been i guess impact in the publishing industry especially on the print side in combination with various managerial mismanagement. it really didn't come as a particular surprise surprise that borders declared chapter 11. >> host: sarah weinman he mentioned the amazon connection. what exactly did orders do with amazon and in your view, what kind of mistake was that? >> guest: to reiterate, back in 2001 when borders had had its own web site, but instead of running their own books directly themselves, they pass that to amazon so essentially they were giving up revenue to their competitor in order to essentially make certain things easier, but in doing that it was
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something of of the devil's bargain because they didn't essentially on their own on line property. so by the time that they change direction, they had i think a new ceo who said that this was not a very good idea. but reclaiming it in 2008, but then amazon had already introduced the kindle. barnes & noble's note was not introduced into's 2009 so when borders did develop its own e-book strategy in selling some additional e-readers, they just never were able to catch up in terms of appropriate orcas share. >> host: what happened to the borders e-book reader, the kobo? >> guest: kobo said that any e-books that have been bought through borders web site are at believe in their words, perfectly safe but it is also interesting that kobo's other partner in australia which incidentally franchises the borders name for various bookstores, they have also declared bankruptcy over there.
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so i'm hopeful that kobo's assertions are indeed true but i think it will be interesting to see if in fact the e-book are safe and people can reclaim them and read them and so on and so forth. >> host: borders has about 642 big box stores across the country. how many are they closing? >> they are closing 200 they are going out of business sales are in fact starting tomorrow. i believe that the liquidation sales will be between 20 and 40% off and those are already going to be in the works. they have actually i believe already started shutting down the cafés at the superstores and it will be very apparent walking into those 200 stores that have been designated foreclosure all around the country that he will see the going out at is the sale signs and be able to get the books, cds, dvds and other appropriate merchandise at those
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prices. >> host: weiss at the barnes & noble has been able to maintain its big box strategy? is it all about the e-books? >> guest: i don't believe it is all about the e-books. i think it may come down to this which is that warrants a noble certainly most recently, if they are run at the top by people who value books more than anything else, with respect to borders especially because there has been such a german is churn of management changes, they brought in people from outside companies who had experience in general retail who may not have realized that their experience did not necessarily translate into what is appropriate for the book business. the book business is very quirky and it is not always been the best that with respect to what public companies in particular need. for example, expecting to demand higher and higher profits. 1% is about average. you are lucky if you get up to 3% so as a result, this sort of
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uncomfortable fit operated by people who warned as experience with how the book business works probably added to borders troubles. >> host: sarah weinman when you look at the bricks and mortar business of booksellers, what do you see in the future given what has happened to borders? >> guest: it is interesting you say that because i am starting to to believe more and more that we may also be witnessing that natural and of the bookstore business which essentially started in the late '80s and early '90s, when borders expanded, when barnes & noble expanded and we started seeing these massive superstores that stood alone. some of them are part of malls but most of them or entities that you could drive up to and park your car and go in and comfy chairs and be part of this greater experience of just browsing for books. in hindsight i do wonder or haps we were perhaps fooling
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ourselves that this could last as long as it did. and maybe 20 years was the natural lifecycle for such a thing. so we will see, specially of digital sales keep growing. perhaps he will say a greater preponderance of smaller independent stores. a number of them have opened. certainly they think many of the postures that have been debated and bandied about in the past decade but the one set of open have us cert -- certain business acumen and engage with senate committees and also develop a small e-book strategy, they seem to have the best chance for survival. i think we'll hopefully see more of those. >> legal system is going to change. it will certainly impact how publishers perhaps sign-up authors and what sort of advances they are paying and what books will be most visible. but to say that the shrinking of the chain bookstore business means that the book industry is dead is a connection i would be
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deeply uncomfortable and making because there are too many signs that are pointing towards more optimistic waters. >> host: who are some of borders biggest creditors and what are they have they said since the filing? >> guest: well, on the unsecured creditors side, the biggest one is the penguin putnam group which i believe is owed 41 million. after that the major publishers. for example, simon & shuster, the 33 million and random house is owed somewhere around the 30 million arrays -- harpercollins and so on and so forth. i believe the only that is issued a statement and the others that stayed mum with her site to what is happening of course they are the larger secured creditors which are bank of america which held the credit agreement. they are still owed almost 200 billion. i believe g8 capital is owed almost 50 million off of their own

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